Social Justice Committee (Calling Young Adults)

As we mentioned in the last issue of the Herald, a parishioner recently asked whether the Church ever takes public stands on social justice issues and whether there has ever been a thought to forming a social justice committee. Notice, here, the word “Church” is capitalized, meaning it has to do with the entire Body of Christ, including the church at the parish level. The answer to the first part of the question is a resounding yes. One may recall Archbishop Iakovos marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, or the stand the Archdiocese has taken on Cyprus and other issues, especially the recent plight of refugees and the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The Church, both on its own and together with bodies as the World Council of Churches and other agencies, has often addressed issues of world hunger and other issues which may be considered to be social justice issues. The Bible regularly addresses social justice issues, as do the Fathers of the Church, especially St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great. The foundational “for so God loved the world” (John 3:16) encompasses what is often called social justice. We must note that the Church [the Orthodox Church] never separates social justice concerns from theology, and takes a dim view of movements that claim to be concerned with social justice without a firm grounding in the Gospel. This said, let’s go to the second part of the question. The part about forming a social justice committee. The Annunciation Cathedral is open to exploring this. In doing so, it extends an invitation to parishioners who might be interested in meeting and doing just this. The committee will do well to look at the Metropolis Strategic Plan, especially its singular outreach ministry program, as well as the work of the San Francisco Interfaith Council. At a recent prayer breakfast, congregations with Social Justice Committees were honored. On February 9, Father Stephen was asked to offer a reflection at that day’s prayer breakfast. He read the Ecumenical Patriarch’s statement to the Budapest Water Summit which was convened in November. The statement read, in part: “Almost two decades ago, we addressed the authorities and people of Budapest during our Third International, Inter-Religious and Inter-Disciplinary Symposium, entitled “The Danube: A River of Life.” It was a unique event – sailing along the Danube from Germany to Romania in October of 1999, with religious and political leaders, as well as scientists, activists and journalists – highlighting the pollution of cities along this great river. At that time, we underlined that the church cannot be solely interested in the salvation of the soul, but is deeply concerned with the transformation of God’s entire creation. Therefore, what is a threat to nature is also a threat to humankind; just as what is for the preservation of the planet is for the salvation of the whole world. Water is as life-giving and sacred as the blood that runs through our body. It does not belong to any individual or any industry, but is the inviolable and non-negotiable right of every human being. Unless we appreciate the danger – perhaps even sinfulness – of refusing to share the planet’s natural resources, we will inevitably face serious challenges and conflicts. Sustainability is not just sound technology and good business. Sustainability is the way to peaceful coexistence. The reflection consisted in these points made by His All Holiness: 1. The Church cannot be solely interested in the salvation of the soul, but is deeply concerned with the transformation of God’s entire creation. 2. Water…is the inviolable and non-negotiable right of every human being. 3. Sustainability is the way to peaceful coexistence. Many of those at the prayer breakfast would never otherwise have heard the Orthodox Church’s viewpoint outlined above, nor of its pioneering work in matters ecological, which earned the Ecumenical Patriarch the title “Green Patriarch.” We can no longer live as isolated entities. It is time for Annunciation Cathedral to take its place among those congregations, addressing Social Justice issues from an Orthodox Christian point of view. The work is both challenging and vital and we invite your participation. If you are interested, please let us hear from you. Communicate with Father Stephen, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., initially, and, then, with the committee chair, Dr. Elena Lingas. We would like to bring together a group of at least ten people and get going. Young Adults: we especially address these thoughts to you and invite your involvement.
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Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.

John 4:7